Secret Strategies to Maximize Fundraising Event Revenue

  1. On November 15, Shanon Doolittle (of the Group Health Foundation) hosted a fundraising event webinar as part of the National Fundraising Event Series. When I read the webinar teaser, signing up was a no-brainer:
  2. In this new economy, event fundraisers have to work even harder to sustain or grow their event revenue. But what if instead of working harder, you had the tools to work
    smarter? By focusing on activities that will drive event revenue, you’ll
    maximize your impact to raise more money for your cause. This webinar will spill
    the beans on specific techniques that can help you efficiently achieve better
    financial results. From audience development to auction procurement, you will
    learn new strategies for helping your nonprofit maximize its event revenue and
    other best practices are now trending in our industry.

  3. And guess what? The session was even more valuable than I imagined it would be!

  4. “Which revenue bucket makes you want to scream into a pillow at night?” – this is how I know this webinar is for me @sldoolittle #NFE11
    November 15, 2011 2:16:44 PM EST
  5. Our hostess with the mostess, Shanon Doolittle, started the webinar by asking about event fundraisers’ most common frustrations. Clearly, she “gets” it.
  6. Trouble securing event sponsors? Figure out the month when their funding decisions are made. Solicit on their schedule, not yours. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:16:24 PM EST
  7. NPO event sponsorship: get in touch w/ prospect and ASK when they make funding decisions- plan accordingly #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:18:02 PM EST
  8. Often, our pitches are good enough to warrant funding. But if the corporate prospect makes funding decisions in March, the world’s greatest ask won’t work if it’s delivered in December. How do you know when your prospect makes a funding decision? Shanon says it’s not complicated…just ask!
  9. Create entry-level (lower $) sponsorship opportunities. Opens door for new sponsors at accessible investment amounts. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:19:08 PM EST
  10. event sponsorship is like dating. don’t ask them to marry you on the first date. ease in and provide entry level sponsorship opps #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:20:26 PM EST
  11. An idea so simple you’d be amazed how many people miss it. Not every sponsor can be a platinum one; create an entry-level opportunity and you’ll get more sponsors, increased revenue and better relationships!
  12. Table sales: create a committee and gamify/incentivize the process. Competition breeds success! #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:20:45 PM EST
  13. NPO event table sales: top salesperson from ur org who sold most tables- give em gift, let em choose where they wanna sit etc #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:21:26 PM EST
  14. Selling tables can be a challenge, but Shanon suggests creating a committee to focus only on table sales. Offering those volunteers an incentive is a great way to get the best results.
  15. NPO event table sales: offer smaller size tables 4 those who can’t afford full table. get em in door & next yr will be easier #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:22:15 PM EST
  16. Don’t just offer tables of 10/12. Offer a small table option too…you’ll fill the room easier! #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:22:17 PM EST
  17. Some people just can’t afford and/or can’t fill your standard 10- or 12-person table. Sell a half table, says Shanon. Part of an event fundraisers’ job is to reduce opportunities for prospects to say no!
  18. NPO event ticket sales: offer discounted prices 4 young ppl. and YES- this totally works!!!!! #nfe11 @sldoolittle
    November 15, 2011 2:23:57 PM EST
  19. Many organizations are trying to reach the young professional demo. If you want to capitalize on their energy and networks, why not offer 20- and 30-somethings a discount to your event?
  20. use your invitation to share your story. make an emotional impact. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:25:33 PM EST
  21. NPO event invitation: treat it like direct mail- tell ur orgs story!!! if some1 cant go 2 event- invitation should make em wanna GIVE #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:25:44 PM EST
  22. Love this. “Treat your event invitation like your direct mail.” Another great opportunity to tell your organization’s story. #NFE11
    November 15, 2011 2:27:11 PM EST
  23. Event invitations are often the most boring mail we receive. Why not design them with your marketing eye? Doing so can only help drive event revenue AND brand awareness. If you already do direct mail, you should have an idea for what works and what doesn’t.
  24. NPO event invitation: include matching gift info #nfe11 @sldoolittle
    November 15, 2011 2:26:29 PM EST
  25. Include matching gift information on your invitations. You’re wasting an opportunity if you don’t include the option. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:26:49 PM EST
  26. It logically follows that if you start treating your invitations like direct mail, you should also include matching gift information (like you do in your direct mail pieces). Different donors will want to give in different ways; make sure you’re opening up every possible avenue.
  27. NPO event raffle: u can pre-sell tickets b/c person doesn’t need 2 be at event to join raffle. helps build buzz 4 event #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:28:09 PM EST
  28. Offer multiple raffle items that people can choose from! #nfe11 @sldoolittle
    November 15, 2011 2:29:29 PM EST
  29. Shanon’s charity raffle tips include pre-selling to ensure you maximize revenue from people who can’t attend your event. Also, create multiple prize packages/buckets so people can choose which prizes they’re eligible to win.
  30. If you’re doing a charity auction, use a professional auctioneer. Don’t let a volunteer do it…you’ll leave money on the table. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:33:03 PM EST
  31. NPO event auction: limit number of items; use professional auctioneer- u may be leaving $$ on table. they know how 2 get more bids #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:33:10 PM EST
  32. While your Board chair may think he can run your auction, a professional auctioneer will instinctively know how to maximize the bids for each item…and keep the event from devolving into chaos.
  33. Doing a “raise the paddle” event? Pre-solicit starting donations. The worst thing you can do is get ZERO bidders on items. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:34:13 PM EST
  34. It looks really bad if you can’t get anyone to make a starting bid. Talk to your major donors/leaders prior to the event and get them to agree to start off the bidding at a comfortable level. In most cases, other bidders will follow.
  35. use #donation cards to capture your quiet donors at the end. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:37:08 PM EST
  36. Don’t forget to put a donation card on the table. Not everyone wins the auction/buys raffle tix. Create another donation opportunity! #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:36:04 PM EST
  37. I love this idea of the “quiet donor.” Putting a donor card at every seat ensures that EVERY guest has one more opportunity to make a gift.
  38. Post NPO event: send event summary as quickly as possible after event, could be titled: Join us at our Virtual Table w/ donate button #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:39:59 PM EST
  39. ask non-attendees to join you at a post-event “virtual table” … and yes, follow-up with an ask. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:40:06 PM EST
  40. After your event, email an event summary to both attendees and non-attendees and feature the DONATE button. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:40:13 PM EST
  41. Post NPO event: u CAN make an ask after event, send e-appeal 2 ppl who didn’t RSVP or come- let em know ur org still needs their help #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:40:57 PM EST
  42. After your event, you should STILL be asking for donations (from both attendees and non-attendees). Shanon invites people to join a “virtual table” at which they get an event recap, see pictures/video and hear another call to action (the ask).
  43. Let your event dictate the technology you use; don’t let “cool” technology drive your event decisions. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:49:56 PM EST
  44. There are a lot of exciting tech toys available to event fundraisers. Make sure you’re using the tools that make the most sense for your org and event…not the ones that are the shiniest.
  45. NPO event sponsorship: RESEARCH UR PROSPECTS!!!!!! if u cold call, let biz know u understand what they do, engage etc #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:58:59 PM EST
  46. No one likes cold calling (or being cold called). But you stand the greatest chance of success if you let corporate prospects know that you understand what they do and why they do it. Research their philanthropic agendas thoroughly before you ask them to contribute.
  47. You rock my world. Thanks for live tweeting my little webinar, @fundraisinisfun @matthewsm1th @jesstaback @mackenzietl @kantifaeff! #NFE11
    November 15, 2011 5:11:52 PM EST
  48. No, Shanon, you rock OUR worlds.
  49. I’m hoping someone is going to storify @SLDoolittle & #nfe11 awesome info! Event fundraisers need this info in the playbook!
    November 15, 2011 2:42:21 PM EST
  50. Done and done! 🙂
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